Slager expected to plead guilty in federal court

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager is due back in federal court Tuesday and attorneys say he's worked out a plea deal.

The plea deal with federal prosecutors will end the federal case and also resolve the state charges that were still pending after a hung jury in the earlier trial.

SPECIAL SECTION | The Shooting of Walter Scott

His legal team released the following statement Tuesday.

This afternoon Michael Slager will enter a guilty plea to using excessive force in violation of 18 USC Section 242 as he attempted to arrest Walter Scott on April 4, 2015. We hope that Michael’s acceptance of responsibility will help the Scott family as they continue to grieve their loss. As a sentencing date has not yet been determined, we will refrain from further comment at this time.

In the plea agreement Slager admits:

  • That his Taser dropped to the ground behind him
  • That as Scott was running away, Slager fired eight shots at him from his department issued firearm
  • During the time that each of the eight shots were fired, Scott was unarmed and running away from Slager
  • Five shots hit Scott, all entering from behind

The plea also includes an end to Slager's state trial.

Agreements by the State of South Carolina. In return for the defendant’s plea of guilty as set forth herein, the State of South Carolina agrees: (a) to dismiss, within five days of the acceptance of this guilty plea, the charge pending in State v. Slager, Case No. 2015-GS-10-3466, subject to re-indictment if, for any reason caused by the defendant, the agreement is not fulfilled; (b) to not file any additional charges against the defendant arising out of the facts forming the basis for the crimes charged in the Indictment.

The maximum penalties Slager faces are life in prison, a $250,000 fine, supervised released for five years and a $100 Special Assessment.

Slager is charged with obstruction of justice over what he told SLED agents in the interview. He's also charged with using a weapon to commit a violent crime, and violating Walter Scott's civil rights under the color of law. He could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted.

Slager shot Scott in North Charleston in April 2015 following a traffic stop for a broken taillight. Scott ran away from the scene shortly after the stop. Slager gave chase, and the two men eventually wound up in a struggle.

A bystander videoed Slager shooting Scott multiple times as Scott again tried to run away following the altercation. Slager claims Scott took his Taser during the fight and tried to use it against him. Slager says he shot Scott in self-defense because he feared for his life.

The federal trial and hearings follow a state murder trial that happened this past winter during which the jury could not come to an agreement and a mistrial was ruled.

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